02/19/2004 12:00AM

The Cliff's Edge wants more


OLDSMAR, Fla. - The Cliff's Edge begins his march toward a possible start in the 2004 Kentucky Derby as the strong choice in a field of 12 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Cliff's Edge completed his 2-year-old campaign last year with victories in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club and Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes. He led throughout in his career debut at Saratoga, then broke in the air when wheeled right back in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway and ran third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

After running a troubled sixth to Eurosilver in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, The Cliff's Edge rallied from way off the pace to win the Iroquois by 7 3/4 lengths. He then closed out the year with another late-running win in the Kentucky Jockey Club as the 4-5 choice.

The Cliff's Edge figures to be a heavy favorite in the Davis, the traditional prep for the Grade 3, $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby. But the improving Zakocity could be a strong factor, too, according to his trainer, Marty Wolfson.

"He's really starting to grow and mature in the past few months," Wolfson said. "When we got him last fall, he was sort of skinny and gangly, but lately he's started to fill out and mature nicely."

The addition of blinkers before the What a Pleasure three starts ago has improved Zakocity's focus, according to Wolfson. Zakocity was an unlucky second in the Dave Feldman at Gulfstream Park last time out.

"We put the blinkers on to keep his attention better and he ran a solid fourth behind Second of June and Silver Wagon in the What a Pleasure, then came back with a win against allowance horses," Wolfson said. "Then, last time, he was unfortunate to get caught down on the inside in the slop where the track was really the deepest. [Jockey] Jose [Santos] had to wait just a bit for racing room, then got him through inside, and he finished well - but being on the deepest part of the track may have cost us a win in that one."

Jesus Castanon will ride Zakocity.

Others that merit consideration in the Davis are Misguided Left, winner of the Pasco Stakes; and the uncoupled Kirk Ziadie-trained entry of Keytstone Point, a sharp winner over allowance rivals in his first start since November here recently, and Kaufy Mate, who was bet down to the 3-2 choice in the Pasco, but broke slowly and came up empty.

* Also on Saturday's card, Ender's Sister, who won the $100,000 Three Ring Stakes for her second straight win, tops a field of 12, including an entry, in the $60,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.